31 August 2012


John Mosby wrote a post on PT.  I'd like to put out some standards.  Last I checked these were the current doctrinal standards, if anyone knows of any updates please let me know.

Rangers, 49 perfect form pushups, 59 perfect form situps, 5 mile run in 40 minutes, 6 perfect chinups from a dead hang, 12 mile foot march with 50 pounds of kit in 3 hours or less.  This is the Ranger School standard, just to get into the school so they know the training won't kill you.

Special Forces, 49 perfect form pushups, 59 perfect form situps, 2 mile run in under 14:54, pass a 50 meter swim test.  This is the minimum for Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS).

SEALs, 500 yard swim under 12 minutes, 42 perfect form pushups, 52 perfect form situps, 8 perfect form pullups from a dead hang, 1.5 mile run in 11:30.

These are the published minimum standards to attend the training for each of those elite forces.  If you go and struggle to make the minimum, then you will more than likely fail to achieve the course standards.  Those who have "been there and done that" will tell you honestly that to survive the training you need to blow these minimums away. 

And if you think that these minimum standards all seem alike, well look back in history and see what Grandpa was doing http://artofmanliness.com/2011/09/12/are-you-as-fit-as-a-world-war-ii-gi/ And it seems that there is a pretty broad agreement that you need to meet a certain level of fitness to be effective in combat.

The other day I had to take another Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) as a TRADOC requirement to graduate the course I'm in.  The course I'm in has no physical component in it, but a requirement is a requirement.  So I scored the minimum for the 17-21 male standards on pushups and situps, then hit their 70% for the run (14:40 two mile time).  I'm significantly older than 21 so my "score" was higher than a 180.

I'm out of shape, and I can still easily pass the minimum standards.  What I cannot do right now is max any single event.  This is pretty normal, during a career, or even during your life, there are portions of it where you will not be in peak physical condition.  However, not being in peak condition is no excuse for failing to meet minimum standards.

So how do you get back to peak physical condition?  The old acronym, FITT, for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type is a good place to start.

You need to work out frequently.  4 days a week is the minimum to sustain a level of fitness, but you can exercise every day. 

Your intensity level needs to vary.  Running is great, but long slow distance runs aren't going to give you the "burst of speed and power" that you need for intense responses.  Training solely for sprints isn't going to condition your aerobic systems for long endurance.  Your sprints should be anaerobic, with that in mind.  Everyone would like to be able to hump 120 pounds of kit 16 miles in 4 hours across country, but even the SAS don't train to that standard.

Time:  As your intensity increases your time will decrease, but you need to work on increasing that minimum time.  If you can sprint all out for 60 seconds, progress comes not only in covering more ground in that 60 seconds but pushing out the max time of effort to 90 seconds and beyond.

Type:  Variety is the spice of life, but monotony brings home the bacon.  Lunges, air squats, pushups, situps, chinups, are all plain boring exercises that you can do anywhere and nearly anytime.  You don't need to do a novel exercise every time you work out, but you need to mix it up.  Kettlebell drills are great, barbell and dumb bell exercises are fine. 

Some of my favorite workouts?  Heavy bag punch drills, if you can hit and kick a bag continuously for 45 minutes you are doing good.  Stair/Hill sprints, someone once told me that you expend 7 times the energy for one foot vertical as opposed to one foot horizontal travel, I don't know exactly how true that is, but sprinting uphill or stairs is a great way to build anaerobic capacity.  2 mile sprint workout, go to a quarter mile track, sprint one lap, one lap, two laps, two laps, one lap, one lap, with minimum rest between laps. 

27 August 2012

Things you can't believe they put on record....

I found the following paragraph on Carbon Dioxide most illuminating.  source: http://jcmooreonline.com/2010/12/31/science-global-warming-and-the-ice-age-mystery/

In 1900, Arvid Hgbom calculated the amount of CO2 emitted by industrial sources and, surprisingly, found that man was adding CO2 to the atmosphere at roughly the same rate as volcanoes. No one thought much of it as, at that rate, it would take centuries for the amount of CO2 to increase significantly. However, after a protracted heat wave during the 1930′s, Guy Callendar re-examined previous temperature and CO2 measurements and found not only that the Earth was getting warmer, but also that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were increasing rapidly.  Callendar’s work was mostly ignored, but a few scientists began monitoring the concentration of CO2 more closely. Their results were sporadic but, by 1958, Charles Keeling had established accurate procedures for measuring atmospheric CO2. His lab was eventually moved to the Mauna Loa observatory, far away from most CO2 sources. His graph showing how CO2 varies with time, now called the Keeling curve, proved to be an important piece of evidence.
 I've bolded the significant portions.  Same paragraph admits that volcanoes are a significant source of atmospheric CO2, then says moving a lab to an active volcano moved it away from "most CO2 sources."

Look folks, this is what we call "cognitive dissonance."  I've calculated out in this blog before that anthropogenic CO2 only accounts for about a quarter of the increase in CO2 that we are currently seeing (PLEASE check my math on that one) and no one really knows where the rest is coming from.  But sticking the observatory on top of an active CO2 emitter and saying it is "far away from most CO2 sources" is outright chicanery.

26 August 2012

Logistic Fight in Afghanistan

Beans, Bullets, Bandages, Fuel, Parts, Replacements.  Our Army military logistic system is well known, and anyone with internet access can learn about it.  Here is an introduction for those who may not be familiar.

The military supply system lays out classes of supply 1 through 10.

Class 1: Food and Water
Class 2: Office Supplies and such
Class 3: Fuel, lubricants, and other petroleum products
Class 4: Building materials
Class 5: Ammunition
Class 6: Comfort and convenience items
Class 7: Major end items
Class 8: Medical Supplies
Class 9: Repair Parts
Class 10: The "catch all" category, usually for things like seeds or fertilizer for civil affairs.

The "Loggies" (slang for logistician) are the best resource trackers and predictors a Commander has on his staff.  In addition to tracking all the classes of supply by stocks on hand and predicting stocks for the future, they also have to plan on moving it all from "point A to point B" and distributing it out.

The Loggies are the strategic reason that insurgents don't bother attacking Combat Logistic Patrols (CLP, or "clip") very often.  Not because it wouldn't have an effect, but because a CLP is designed to "plus up" a unit instead of "resupply" a unit.  If a unit is cut off from a CLP for a bit they don't go black immediately, and due to the power of forecasting the Loggies know exactly how to shift priorities of effort to keep the boots on the ground in the fight.

John Mosby has written quite a bit about insurgent logistics (part two here).  I'm going to look at this from the perspective that I know about, which is operations to find and clear insurgent caches.  Mostly finding a cache is a not the purpose of an operation, usually you are going after some other target.  However, sometimes patrols really are sent out just to do clearance operations and look for caches.  In Afghanistan "cache" universally means "weapons and ammunition" as the remaining classes of supply for the insurgents are "off the economy" so to speak.

First, you need to know about something called a Company Operations Intelligence Support Team (COIST).  The Army has a decent article here http://www.army.mil/article/23048/coist-staffs-play-crucial-role-on-todays-complex-battlefield/  that outlines the duties of COIST members, and the capabilities that they bring to the fight.

Remember that "Sustainment" is an element of Combat Power (the 6 War Fighting Functions plus Leadership).  Traditionally one of the ways to defeat an enemy was to "starve them out."  You can attack any portion of the Elements of Combat Power, and here we will look at insurgent sustainment.

First, where are the insurgents operating?  Get a map, use pushpins or alcohol pens to outline where the enemy is operating.  This is his AO.  A good cache point is accessible for resupply, so focus your operations in and around the enemy AO.  You can use computer tools such as Google Earth or any other commercial mapping software to do this, and electronic products are usually easier to share with others.

Second, what is the enemy using?  Small arms ammunition is a lot easier to conceal than 152mm artillery shells used to make IEDs.  Know what the enemy is using from After Action Reports and Patrol Debriefs to add specificity to your search for enemy caches.

Third, are there any suspicious areas of inactivity?  People don't like to fight where they live if they can avoid it.  If the only difference between area A and area B is the level of conflict, it bears looking into.  This is where the military intelligence guys can come in handy, finding out what the scuttlebutt is on why neighborhood A is quiet.

Fourth, where are the natural supply lines in and out of the AO?  This is a natural place to look for caches.  People are lazy and don't want to haul stuff any further than they have to before using it.

Fifth, is there any unexplainable or "fishy" activity in the AO?  I know several officers who noticed something out of place which led to a cache find.  A field being plowed in winter, a grain sack with a bulge in it, a wooden floor in a home (a bit of a rarity where we are fighting).  If something doesn't feel right, stop, ask yourself what is triggering that feeling, then investigate.

These are all examples of questions that a good COIST will be asking and trying to answer.  A COIST isn't there to act as a company level S2, but as an intel focused battle tracker and trend analyzer.  We know that we won't win the fight by taking out caches, but we know that we can't provide security if the enemy can resupply at will. 

25 August 2012

Civil and military leadership

The internet has brought people together in a profound way that our would be masters find distasteful.  On average between 500 and 800 people a day view something I wrote on this blog, some of it political and some of it not.  But before this point in history only the insider to the media had such access to the masses, and only those actively in politics could make good use of them.  This blog has connected me to some folks with whom I now correspond regularly.  Recently in this correspondence the subject of leadership came up.

To get back to a conversation with a friend I need to first look to Greece, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and even the US during the great depression.  One of the basis for being a "survivalist" is economic collapse.  At this point we all agree it is coming (seriously, the Congressional Budget Office even pointed out that our economy will collapse under "business as usual", and the only difference between R and D at this point is how fast we conduct "business as usual") but we don't know when.

Financial collapse in and of itself is not a threat to freedom, it is when the economic collapse is used as a Reichstag Fire to consolidate political power and move away from freedom to tyranny that is the big worry.  In Greece we see the collapse of the socialist state without any further power grabs, as the Greeks already gave up their freedoms to the socialist government in the first place.  In Chile the Socialist Revolution was causing economic collapse with the nationalization of industry, and it took Pinochet to undo the damage and turn Chile around (leftists hate Pinochet because he didn't let the Glorious Communist Revolution succeed).

In the United States the biggest expansion of FedGov power in peacetime was under FDR and the "new deal" which saw the politicization of the Supreme Court and the end of Congressional non-delegation of power doctrine.  Up until that point it was accepted that Congress could not delegate its authority to a non-elected bureaucrat, and now we have the ATF writing its own rules and changing them frequently to discourage gun ownership, the EPA writing its own rules to discourage development, and the IRS writing its own rules to confiscate more property.

Recently in the debates on sequestration a politician was quoted as saying that "Defense shouldn't be a jobs program" which is ironic considering the role the US Army played in overseeing the Civilian Conservation Corps that Keynesians and Democrats (but I repeat myself) hail as a successful government intervention.  The reason why the Army must have a budget passed every two years and the Navy doesn't is that the Founders wanted a continual justification for any Federal land forces (the Navy has always had an enduring role in protecting the nations shipping and trade routes) so that the military would stay as small as possible only to be enlarged as necessary (a model that served very well until the Cold War bloat).

Right now Greece is experiencing a "soft fall" instead of "Mad Max."  It is my opinion that our coming collapse will likely be a "soft fall" and that we will muddle through just fine as long as our government also has to face the fiscal reality.  The biggest danger right now is that someone will rise to power convincing enough sheep that the well stocked sheep are "hoarders" and that "hoarding should be illegal" because they are denying others resources.  If the .gov gets further into resource redistribution it cannot be a "soft fall" and things will get bad quickly (just my opinion, I don't have a crystal ball).  In that case our only options for the continuation of freedom is create our own Pinochet (who was a fairly bloody man in his own right) or have another bloody revolution.

In discussing preparing for the future, my friend gave me an interesting compliment and said that I would get his nomination to lead should the crap hit the fan.  The problem is that should the crap hit the fan, military leadership isn't going to be the issue, civil leadership is going to be the issue.  The true power of the American Revolution lay not with the Continental Army or Navy, or even the various militias (which were very effective at slowing down the redcoats) but with the Continental Congress.  On the sidebar over there are links to various actively serving and veterans who can all provide effective military leadership.

What we need are effective civil leaders.  Who will be this generations Benjamin Franklin?  Thomas Jefferson?  Thomas Keane?  John Adams?  George Washington served the Republic, he did not create it.  His leadership transitioned well from military to civilian, but there are many who cannot make the transition.  How different would our world be if the men of the Continental Congress couldn't sell George Washington on the idea of a better government than the one he knew all his life? 

Now the coming collapse may not fundamentally alter us as a nation.  But there are those who would use the collapse as an excuse to impose their vision of the future on all of us.  I think it only prudent to have an alternate outcome planned and resourced, even if it is simply holding what we've got and not fundamentally transforming America.

22 August 2012

The teleological argument isn't rational

Ever wonder why the Bunch can be so wrong and still claim they are right?  They are not rational where "right" is demonstrable as a concrete term, they are teleological.  Teleological theories define the "right" in terms of the "good."   Which is why all of their petty little arguments boil down to wishful thinking and "for the common good."  Because they want it to be so (because it is how they define good) it must be right according to teleological thinking.  Accepting that they are completely wrong would destroy their worldview and internal philosophy in a way that a brick destroys a pane glass window. 

Firehand linked back to Days of Our Trailers about how the Brady campaign is now an expert on self defense.  I could not believe that anyone could be so utterly out of touch with reality without being forced to take medication to bring them back from lala land.

Seriously did they even ask a "Self Defense Expert" before speaking with such convicted authority that the magic of self defense makes guns unnecessary?  What if the other guy has a gun and your million dollar black belt becomes useless?  Will the Brady campaign tell us to "Take the Red Pill, then you can dodge bullets, but by the time you can dodge bullets, you won't have to" and claim to free us all from the computer program that has been running our lives?

So I went ahead and googled the phrase "real world self defense" and figured that maybe I was wrong?  Nope, the first hit back is http://www.amazon.com/Real-World-Self-defense-Staying-Dangerous/dp/1581600445 which is a manual on things like improvising weapons and using firearms to stay alive.

But wait, the Brady Bunch said "proper self defense" so I googled that.  The first return on that led to this money quote from http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/safebasics/self_defense.html#
A good self-defense class can teach you how to size up a situation and decide what you should do. Self-defense classes can also teach special techniques for breaking an attacker's grasp and other things you can do to get away. For example, attackers usually anticipate how their victim might react — that kick to the groin or jab to the eyes, for instance. A good self-defense class can teach you ways to surprise your attacker and catch him or her off guard.  AM's note, this was written by an M.D. and not a Self Defense instructor.
 Now I may have a different opinion of "little to no damage" but when you are teaching students moves to catch an attacker off guard so you can do things to get away, those things usually involve lots of pain.

I've studied martial arts under four black belts in four different styles.  I've got Combatives Level II certification from the Army and I've lost track of the mat hours I've accumulated.  I think I've got a pretty broad experience in studying "self defense" and not a single instructor I've ever trained under, EVEN WHEN I STUDIED AIKIDO, was concerned about not hurting a real attacker.  In the dojo we thank our partners for giving us the gift of training, and so we work really hard not to hurt them for real.  But training injuries are very common, because as safe as you make hand to hand combat there is no way to get down to "no damage to the VICTIM."

Why do they even bother?  Even google can't make their fantasy world a reality.  How small minded can someone be when they cannot even face reality?

21 August 2012

Thoughts on Tasks and Purposes

In the traditional "Maneuver Army" a "doctrinal task" for a maneuver unit is something that must be done, and it must be paired with a "doctrinal purpose" to be a complete mission statement.

"A Co will attack to destroy the enemy in Engagement Area Zulu"
"B Co will conduct an area defense to deny the enemy access to the fastest route to Objective Wrench"
"C Co will conduct a raid to disrupt enemy logistics in Sector 5"

In the Maneuver world, where we are moving men and equipment around the battlefield, the end state is defined with regards to enemy, friendly, civilian, and terrain.  Such as:

At end state A Co has secured Hill 118 and positioned to conduct follow on operations, denied the enemy advance along Axis Tubman, and ensured the town of Mainville south of Hill 118 is safe from enemy counter attack.

On the Fires and Effects side of the house, a doctrinal task and purpose is an "effect with regards to the targeted formation."  Such as;

Task: Deny the enemy Commander access to frequencies 462 through 467 MHz to degrade command and control.  The effect you want is "denial" in order to degrade C2.  Of course you could write it the other way around, "degrade enemy C2 by denying the enemy free use of frequencies 462 through 467 MHz"

Task: Destroy the enemy tanks in Sector B to deny the enemy main effort reinforcements.  The effect you want is "deny the enemy main effort reinforcements" and you are doing that by destroying tanks.

There is no "endstate" for a Fires/Effects task and purpose, there is a measure of performance (what we do) and measure of effectiveness (what happened to the enemy).  Measure of Performance are easy to write, but measures of effectiveness are a tad trickier.  Nowhere else on the battlefield does the enemy get such a large say in how you get rated at doing your job.

For our first fires mission, destroying enemy tanks to prevent reinforcements, we plan to allocate 22 rounds of heavy artillery to fire on grid square XYZABC.  We fire the rounds (our measure of performance) but they failed to destroy the tanks (measure of effectiveness).  However our artillery strike took out a bridge that stopped the tanks from reinforcing the main effort (yay, we succeeded in stopping the reinforcements!).

Alternately, we could have destroyed the tanks, but had no effect on the motorized infantry company the tanks were supporting and the enemy main effort was reinforced, so how do you measure success there?  We fired 22 big rounds (Measure of Performance, what we did) and destroyed the enemy tanks (effect on enemy) but failed to prevent the enemy from reinforcing which was the whole purpose of the task.

I bring this up because this is the real heart of Counter Insurgency (COIN) doctrine.  Yes there is a kinetic fight where "Company A will conduct a Cordon and Search of Village Goatanus to deny the enemy safe haven" but the larger fight is one of effects, such as "Company B will conduct stability and support operations in the Ramfuk Valley to gain popular support for the Coalition governance line of effort."

Never before in the history of warfare have Commanders at all levels been so concerned with "effects" of operations as opposed to the "movement and maneuver" portion of operations.  After all, no one wants another "Mission Accomplished" moment where we say, "Yeah, we kicked their butts!" to then spend a decade trying to unscrew the pooch.

Now I might not be the smartest guy in the room, but I'm pretty sure what Mohomo Donkeylover insurgent commander is doing is effects based targeting in planning bad guy operations.  They did it poorly in Iraq, but better in Afghanistan.  In Afghanistan they are masters of the human terrain and understanding the effect that their operations will have on the local populace, whether they will build trust or tear down trust.

I apologize for all the back story, but the lesson learned is that if you don't have enough men and equipment to conduct traditional maneuver "Task/Purpose" for your operations, you should consider the "effect with regards to a formation (enemy or civilian)" tasks in planning operations.  And even if you do have enough men and equipment to play chess on the real world battlefield, you should always understand what effects your actions will have.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions, if you are like me and suck at predicting how people will react, bounce some ideas off your wife (or someone with better interpersonal skills).

19 August 2012

Technology, Prosperity, Government

Dedicated Dad left this comment.  I found my reply to this section simply so long that it deserved a post about it.
Our system of Government - the first TRULY limited government in history - brought on the greatest explosion in technology and prosperity that the world has ever seen!
Having a passing interest in history, I think that I should tell a story, specifically the story of the industrial revolution.  There has been a lot of talk about "Pax Americana" and the prosperity brought on by free market principles.  This is true, however if you look at the prosperity of Hong Kong from 1950 to 1997 you'll find that they shot up faster than we ever did, and so the observational evidence starts to chip away at the idea that our government has much to do with prosperity and technology.

But, once upon a time when our nation was young, having just won its independence...

The first known record of interchangeable parts was when Eli Whitney of the Cotton Gin fame and Simeon North competed for a contract to deliver standardized muskets to the US Government.  That may have been the "birth" of the industrial revolution, but the true story of machining and manufacturing then went to Europe.

In Great Britain and Germany the machinists and tradesmen honed their craft.  Ever wonder why the threads on a Mauser rifle action are measured in "threads per inch" instead of "threads per centimeter"?  It is because the best machining equipment in the world at that time came from Great Britain.

Then came a World War, the Great Depression, then World War part 2.  Remember that up until this time the center of innovation and prosperity wasn't the United States, machining excellence and scientific research was in Europe.  There is a very good reason for John Moses Browning's intimate relationship with Fabrique National in Belgium.  When the Nazi's captured Belgium they found the High Power pistol design so acceptable they just continued to have FN factories crank them out for use by the Wehrmacht.

After WWII we split Europe with the Russians, we grabbed hold of German scientists and so did they, and then we spent a lot of money trying to develop technology so we could clobber the Russians in World War part 3.  But you don't see the "greatest explosion in technology and prosperity that the world has ever seen" until we bring back the spoils of war.  Even our Interstate Highway system is a borrowed idea.

And what is the role of government in all of this?  At best a financier of research.  Sure the space program gave us SuperGlue and pressurized gel pens, but it was a woman named Stephanie Kwolack doing research at Dupont who invented Kevlar.  The US government helped fund the mapping of the human genome, however the fruit from that endeavor still remains mostly in the future.

History is the story of how the world as we know it came to be.  But you have be very careful in proscribing a "cause/effect" relationship to a system of government and progress.  After all, the dominance of Japanese and German research in the last few decades leads me to believe that the "explosion in technology" is not centered in the United States anymore.  We are graduating less than half of the scientists and engineers that Germany puts out every year on a statistical basis.

Sweden is a prosperous Socialist country, Cuba is a poor Communist country, Saudi Arabia is a prosperous Monarchy, Israel is a prosperous Democracy. Saying that our method of government is the direct cause of the technological progress made after WWII is a massive oversimplification (as our chief competitors in the technology department, Great Britain and Germany, were rebuilding well into the late 1950s from the war damage).  American factories undamaged by bombs were able to put a lot of returning veterans to work (and when those Japanese and German factories got back on line again, who boy did they eat our lunch!) and American Universities and Corporations were able to take advantage of refugee scientists and engineers.  I would counter the Dedicated_Dad's statement that it was geography and not limited government that produced the era of relative prosperity from 1950 to 2000 (with some notable exceptions such as 1972 to 1984).

In reality the two biggest "technological leaps forward" were the integrated circuit (which took a German initial patent, American engineering, and Italian physicist to turn into a CPU ) and the internet (we should remember that html was developed at CERN) which had a lot less government support than most people think.  And neither invention can be laid at the feet of "limited government" as a success.

This world is more interconnected than we know.  We must remember that as America grew prosperous so did the rest of the world, http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html 

18 August 2012

High Value verses High Payoff Targets

Military staff work is not glamorous, but it is how a good Commander builds effective, robust, and executable plans and operations.  Planning is the first step towards success.

"How do you eat an elephant?" is an old question, and the old answer is "One bite at a time."  The parable is that you can conquer the seemingly unconquerable by taking a systematic approach to break it down.  One of the ways we do this is "targeting" our efforts to where they will be most effective.  If you only had a single bullet, where would you most effectively use it?  If you only had one operational cell?  If you only had one platoon?  These are the questions that get asked to determine priority, and a lot of thought and arguing goes into determining where something falls in priority.

The term "HVT" for "High Value Target" and the spin off term "HVI" for "individual" describes assets that an opposing organization needs to accomplish their mission.  This can be organic command and control channels, logistic supply chains, propaganda cells, or whatever else that the organization truly needs to accomplish their mission.

The "High Payoff Target" or "HPT" is something that we can gain a marked advantage over the opponent from killing/destroying/isolating/neutralizing that asset.  Once that HPT is gone, is isn't readily replaced.

You would think that HVT and HPT lists would be the same.  The reason they are not always the same is that we like to break down missions by phases or geography. 

The difference is largely academic to the ground pounder, who is mostly given a "priorities of engagement" list (radios, crew served weapons, etc).  The difference comes up in the planning cycle as to how to prosecute war and engage the enemy.  So the higher up the food chain you get the more important HVT and HPT lists become.

One of Saddam Hussein's known objectives was to protect Iraq.  He chose to do this with an Integrated Air Defense network of Surface to Air Missiles, Command and Control nodes, all meshed together over a communications network.  So his "HVT" could be classified as "IADS" assets.  When we smashed through that IADS asset (twice in my lifetime, once in my career) we targeted portions of the system with different tactics and munitions in order to gain Air Supremacy.  Our "High Payoff Targets" weren't the SA missiles themselves, but the backbone that would make those missiles effective.  A million missiles does you no good if you don't know when and where to use them.  Knocking out radars and C2 nodes was more effective than targeting the missiles.  Iraqi HVT was the IADS, our HPT was C2 nodes and radar sites.  Sorry for the rather simple explanation.

In a conventional war we usually have a systems centric HPT list as we have a pretty good understanding of how the enemy conducts business, how assets are used by doctrine, and how effective/trained/disciplined the opposing force is.  In an unconventional war we have very little of that going into the conflict unless someone has been paying attention.  When we went into Vietnam there was already over a decade of history on the VC that we could have used, but we didn't.  However I have seen enough to know that we won't make that mistake again.

The takeaway point here is that effective forces minimize "single points of failure" in their organization.  If every one in your organization can shoot effectively out to the maximum effective range of their rifle, does it really do your enemy any good to mount an "anti-sniper" campaign to take out your best shot?  If every one in your organization can effectively make improvised munitions and conduct demolition operations does it do your enemy any good to try to target your "Sappers"?  Single points of failure can find themselves on the HPT list very quickly.  How many times have we seen "financier" on the target worksheet because he is the only source of revenue for an insurgent?

This is one of the reasons that American forces have done better in Afghanistan than Soviet forces did.  There are much fewer single points of failure up and down the chain of command with the American model.  The average "grunt on the ground" between the two forces was largely interchangeable (sorry Americans, I know you are better educated with better toys but in reality your Soviet conscript was just as effective).  But now taking out a vehicle doesn't stop the unit from communicating, the American Infantry Platoon can continue to fight even after losing a PL or Squad Leader because they train junior leaders to step up. 

If you find your organization relying on one asset, you need to stop doing that.  Build redundancy, or get eaten up one bite at a time.


Over at cnn.com I saw this link about chemists lowering the fat content of choclate.


Which I think is a good thing, chocolate has some very good benefits to those who can ingest it safely (some folks with allergies are unfortunately not able to partake) but a high calorie count is not one of them.  It is funny to me that the intersection of food and chemistry has gotten so much press lately, but I think I only notice that because of my education.

14 August 2012

The power of belief

I don't believe that the capacity for violence in the citizen populace will have any deterrent effect on the continuing growth of government abuses on said citizenry.  It didn't stop a civil war, Japanese internment (although it did deter foreign invasion), end Jim Crow, or prevent Waco, Ruby Ridge, or Katrina gun confiscation.  So Anonymous asked me why I ain't leading fighters in rebellion against our legitimately elected government that he claims is completely illegitimate.  He also claims that the conditions for success don't mean squat and that luck is the deciding factor, which is pretty much lazy thinking at best and pure agitprop at worst.

If 150 or so million gun owners haven't been able to curtail the growth of the police state up until now then it would be foolish to expect that trend to suddenly change.  Everyone seems to think that the deer hunters in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania equal the military might of some other countries Army.  Yeah right, hunting and killing are two very different activities.  Even if you buy into the three percent ideology you are looking at 4.5 million gun owners actually willing to fight.  But how many of them vote?

How many of those 150 million gun owners voted for Obama?  Whenever someone goes the full Godwin and compares a politician to Hitler I like to point out that none of our politicians has been anywhere near as successful at the polls as Hitler.  98% of the vote is pretty impressive, even in a national socialist fascist regime.

Only recently have we seen Republicans lose their primary because of their stance on guns or taxes.  That is a trend I would like to see continue.  I'd also like to see the continued pressure of the TEA Party on matters of fiscal importance.  As much as the left would like to paint the TEA Party as nothing but religious fundamental nutjobs even the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself can't change the math of an unbalanced balance sheet.

All across the world Muslim men convince themselves of the righteousness of their cause and go forth to kill and die in allah's name, to claim their heavenly reward of pure sex slaves to pleasure them for eternity.  They happen to be fighting for an evil ideology, but they really believe it.

I don't believe that democracy can ever be the basis of a stable, prosperous, and free society.  We got ourselves to where we are by our local, state, and national popularity contests.  Logic says that we can't keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

So what would success look like at the end of a "restoration of liberty"?  Would it be a Republic where we disenfranchise everyone under 55 years old who doesn't own real estate?  Would we be better off going back to the indirect election of Senators, with confirmed term limits on the office?  We sure as hell can't restore the Constitution as written, 3/5th's rule and all.  Remember those 4 conditions for a successful insurgency?  Having a shadow government ready to take the reigns?  You need that or you fall into the "perpetual revolution" that happened to the French as people fight over what the end state should be by killing off folks with a rival viewpoint of "success".

I'm a soldier, and a pretty cynical one at that.  What I am not is a political scientist who understands how to set up a government that is both effective and limited.  Effective governments have few limits, and limited governments (as the Articles of Confederation showed) are not effective.  Think about it, before you can convince people of the righteousness of your cause, sell them a vision of a better future, you have to have some sort of holy book that justifies their sacrifice.  From the Koran to "Das Kapital" or Mein Kampf to the Federalist Papers every conflict worth studying has had some promise of a better tomorrow.

I've heard a lot of theories on "when it will be time to fight" from Dutchman6's "study the revolution" (which I think is overly simplistic, you don't win the next war by studying the last war) to "lines in the sand" to "no more free Waco's" and understand the folks are justifiably angry.  But angry without a plan is pretty useless.  Anger motivates people less than hope does (Obama's hope and change slogan was pure genius, but since his revolution slowed down it seems he's going for anger and class warfare this election season).  Bottom line, you gotta have a plan that people can believe in and agree on.  If you don't have that, the revolution will fail.

13 August 2012

Elliot Spitzer is an idiot.

So Elliot Spitzer, a man who understood that the free market system could provide him with "companionship" despite the fact that prostitution is illegal, really can't figure out that the free market would not be stopped by his proposal, outlined here:
Here is how it could work with guns: The Defense Department and the city of New York are among the largest purchasers of guns. If the president and the mayor truly believe that semi-automatic weapons should not be available to private purchasers, and that magazines with more than 10 bullets should not be sold over the counter, they should simply say that, from now on, the federal government and the city of New York, as a matter of public safety, will not buy any weapons or ammunition from companies that do not agree to pull semi-automatics from their stock and refuse to produce magazines with more than 10 rounds other than for sale to the government. President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg should announce that semiautomatic handguns with high-capacity magazines—the kind used in Oak Creek; Aurora, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Virginia Tech—can no longer be sold to private citizens by any company that wants to do business with the federal government and the city of New York.
The major gun manufacturers will agree to the limits imposed by their major customers.
Use the power of the government as a purchaser, as a consumer, to get the companies marketing these products to change their behavior. And do it now. Stop blaming the legislature and act, immediately.
 So lets say that Remington, Glock, FN and Colt all agree to this.  I'm just going to assume that they are the biggest suppliers to government.

You know what the end result would be?

You couldn't get a factory mag over 10 round for a Remington, Glock, FN, or Colt product.

But the aftermarket normal capacity magazine market would be booming.  Can't control the free market Elliot, and when the government tries the Free Market becomes the Black Market.  Why do liberals think they can control things that are beyond their abilities as mere humans?  God complex anyone?

Food Crisis? Try financial crisis.

The debate over corn derived ethanol got another nod as the UN put pressure on the US to stop turning food into fuel.  Hat tip to Arctic Patriot for the source.  http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/09/business/un-us-ethanol/index.html

A fuel that take more energy to create than it produces.  Corn derived ethanol is a huge loser in the economy department and without government subsidies and tax breaks would not stand on its own in the free market.

The idea was that "eventually" corn derived ethanol would be replaced by cellulose derived ethanol.  The law was written to push ethanol into cellulose derived ethanol.  Unfortunately the engineering hasn't caught up to the science (cellulase enzyme has been successfully mapped down to the genetic level, but it has taken longer than thought to turn an enzyme derived from the gut bacteria of termites into a marketable product).  http://www.ogj.com/articles/2012/06/afpm-wspa-sue-epa-over-cellulosic-ethanol-requirements0.html

But is this really a food crisis?  No.  This is a currency crisis.  Over the last few years the major currencies of the world have lost ground in comparison to commodities as the consequences of fiscal insanity are becoming ever more clear as bailout after bailout makes the worlds cash resources increasingly worth less.  Eventually the space between those two words may disappear for a time.

The laws of "supply and demand" can't be ignored.  Create more cash and prices go up. Add in a drought to make commodities even more rare against the glut of cash and you have a man made "food crisis" that is nothing of the sort. 

Call it an "energy crisis" when the dollar falls in value against a barrel of crude and yet the UN doesn't pressure Venezuela to produce more, and the UN tells us, "suck it up you fat cat Americans."  Now that our export is drying up the UN calls on us to change our policies to support their agenda.  I don't really care about the hypocrisy of it all except to point it out. 

No amount of corn taken out of the ethanol pipeline and put back into the food pipeline is going to fix the financial mess that is the root cause of spiraling commodity prices.

10 August 2012

Anonymous doubles down

Anonymous left this little gem.  There are only so many blog posts I can do about more serious and applicable matters before I get someone who leaves behind a comment so fully of crazy that I can't immediately stop what I'm doing and share the crazy goodness with the rest of the world.

Was anything I wrote not truth? Why are YOU an enforcer for the federal mafia? If you belive HALF the shit YOU wright in your blog. Why are'nt YOU an officer and leader,for the people,Instead of a bully boy for a government you KNOW to be utterly corrupted? Will you follow orders to attack US? Will you call down "steel rain" on MY home? My wife? my child? Will you follow orders to drag us to death camps? To anser your question; Ya'll best hope we don't start shooting 'cause the'ers 3 million of YOU and 150 million of US.(and thats just the KNOWN gun owners)I truly hope it don't come to this.'Cause I belive that when we start to win, and we will, " government" will nuke/gas us in a heartbeat.I belive the people who are our "government" are utter SATANIC EVIL, trators and worse.They will do ANYTHING to keep/expand power.ANYTHING. Why am I not shooting? 'Cause the day this starts,"government" will order you, or someone just like you to MURDER everyone I love. And you or they WILL OBEY.
 I'll answer in order.

"Was anything I wrote not the truth?"  No, it was your opinion.  You haven't lived in a country outside the US for any length of time have you?

"Why are YOU and enforcer for the federal mafia?"  Because they pay me, hence the blog title.  What part of "mercenary" did you not understand?

"If you belive HALF the shit YOU wright in your blog.  Why are'nt YOU an officer and leader,for the people,Instead of a bully boy for a government you KNOW to be utterly corrupted?"  Because my "followers" would be people like you.  Unruly, irrational, who basically suck at following orders and maintaining discipline.  Oh, and I'd need followers who could actually "fight" or at least a close approximation thereof.

"Will you follow orders to attackUS?"  Depends on what you are doing.  If you hold schoolkids hostage or poisoning a water supply I think I'd be in the right to shoot you in the head.

"Will you call down "steel rain" on MY home? My wife? my child?"  I'll treat these as  one question.  Probably not, a sniper team is much cheaper.  And taking your wife and kid into "protective custody" is an easy way for us government thugs to make you turn on your patriot brethren and act as an inside source since guys like you will do anything to keep their wife and kid safe. This is where I would do something overtly bad guyish like rubbing my hands together while chuckling evilly.

"Will you follow orders to drag us to death camps?"  You know, I'm just going to let this one go for now.  We don't have to go the full Godwin just yet.

"Ya'll best hope we don't start shooting 'cause the'ers 3 million of YOU and 150 million of US. (and that's just the KNOWN gun owners) I truly hope it don't come to this. 'Cause I belive that when we start to win, and we will, "government" will nuke/gas us in a heartbeat. I belive the people who are our "government" are utter SATANIC EVIL, trators, and worse.  They will do ANYTHING to keep/expand power.ANYTHING."  That isn't a question so much as a diatribe of misspelled words that basically says, "we could win whenever we want to, but we don't want to start the process of winning because there might be some casualties involved."

 "Why am I not shooting?" Yup, that is the question I asked.  Finally we get around to your erudite yet concise answer.  Or maybe not.

" 'Cause the day this starts,"government" will order you, or someone just like you to MURDER everyone I love. And you or they WILL OBEY."  All right, so you won't take up arms because someone might get hurt.  I can respect that I think, you claim to have 150 million on "your side" and only 3 million on "my side" and yet you are afraid for your wife and kid?  I get it.  I mean lets problem solve for a second, why not send your family to Canada, France, Mexico, or Australia?   Why not plan a little bit to keep your family alive so you can get around to "winning" (can't not think of Charlie Sheen here....)

And that is why Anonymous isn't shooting, because people might get hurt.  He doesn't seem to have much sympathy for traitorous AM here, but he is afraid for his wife and kid.  I kinda feel sorry for his wife and kid.  Any bets in the hat for when she divorces his ass?  Seriously bro, go drink some more tigers blood or something.

09 August 2012

An example of "not helpful"

 Anonymous left this comment.
Ya'll don't get it THERE IS NO LAW. Government "do as it please", we are treated as, and in fact are SLAVES. Just try and say "no" I dare ya'. Don't think so, try it, some 'a AMs buddies will be at your house 'for you can say "Well Shit" Ever herd a Waco? Ruby Ridge? The Philidelphia MOVE house?The "government" took your "rights" long ago. Its just that NOW "they" don't give a flamein' RATS ASS what ya'll think about it.
Which is a tad melodramatic.  Government is a not a "functional/nonfunctional" dichotomy, at the very best there is a third option "functional/dysfunctional/nonfunctional" option for government.  

Did George Washington "do as he please" in the Whiskey Rebellion?  Did Abraham Lincoln stay out of jail in spite of his obvious crimes against the Constitution?  Did Andrew Jackson blatantly defy the Supreme Court on the issue of Indian lands?  Did FDR violate the rights of due process for thousands of American citizens in WWII?  Yes, we have a long and varied history of not following our own rules.

So anonymous, if there is no law, why aren't you shooting?

08 August 2012

Tactical Risk

Sean left this comment here on my blog.

Here's the thing. The locally, democratically elected govt. may be the legitimate govt., but most legitimately elected democratic govts. do not obey the rule of law anymore, ie;, most large cities, state govts. and of course our dear own FedGov. FedGov does virtually anything it wants, and the states and larger cities play right along, the Constitution and BOR be damned. They have a set of rules for US to obey, but when it comes to them following the law, or being subject to it, not so much. If you recall, Vandeboegh said that our enemies promise to negate any possibility of our using the standard methods of politics against them. I don't believe your four conditions of a successful insurgency are written in stone, either. They undoubtedly come into play, but the timing of their pre-eminence is more determined by chance, rather than design.
And over at WesternRifleShooters this is the latter half of his comment.
The point being that any conflict can be dissected for its outcome, based on observation, but CHANCE determines what really happens, not formulas, not number crunching, not previous conflicts, not odds, and most assuredly not pronouncements of legitimacy. I would hazard that something else comes very much into play, but I don’t want the people here who don’t subscribe to that venue to start flaming about something that’s never been finally decided. But to give a formula for the successful outcome of an insurgency is forgetting that no battle plan survives the first five minutes of the actual battle
I think that I need to address "Chance" or "Fate" or "Random Factors" when discussing the outcome of military action.

Yes it is true that the fickle hand of fate gets a vote in every operation.  You can't eliminate all risk.  But what you can do is minimize risk  When talking about setting conditions for success we are really talking about optimizing our odds.  The flip side of risk is reward.  Don't do a COL Hannibal A-Team risky move to achieve something miniscule, nor would you want to bet it all on a Hail Mary when you could plan ahead and move the ball in much safer moves.

Would you conduct a deliberate attack without a support by fire position?  Only if you had no other options right?  Such as seizing a beach head or driving an armored task force hard through enemy defenses to get to the position you really need to occupy to block the enemy counter attack.  There are very very few "hard and fast" rules when it comes to tactical deployment of forces.

But there are plenty of lessons from history by those who save lives and conserve combat power by minimizing risk.  You do this first by studying your own capabilities, the enemy capabilities, and the terrain on which the conflict will take place.  Then you TRAIN your forces to minimize your own weaknesses and maximize your own strengths.  Then you ruthlessly plan to use every advantage at your disposal to achieve your tactical and strategic goals.

You do every damn thing in your power to minimize the fickle hand of fate.  Those that say "no plan survives first contact with the enemy" as an excuse not to plan are idiotic simpletons at best, or malicious fools at worst.  I believe Sean is only trying to remind people that there are no guarantees in warfare.  Dwight Eisenhower even opined that "Plans are worthless, but planning is priceless." to describe the effect of planning and rehearsing prior to operations.

Never let anyone tell you that planning is worthless, that setting conditions is futile.  On the flip side know when the 80% solution is achieved and you can push forward and trust your fellow warriors to figure out the remaining 20% as they go along.  When I was an NCO all I wanted was an Officer to tell me "Achieve this effect at this place by this time" and let me loose.  Now that I am an Officer I want to be able to give those hard charging NCOs indirect fire support, close air support, enemy comms jamming support, pre-planned combat resupply, dedicated medevac assets, easily understood sectors of fire with adjacent units to prevent fractricide, up to date and even live intel feeds to eliminate the fog of war.  And all that stuff requires planning, coordination, and deconfliction.

Because if you don't plan, then you are planning to fail. You should go read John Mosby to learn how to train yourself to be fit to fight, and you should study history to train your mind how to think about minimizing risk to stay in the fight.  Insurgencies are won by who stays in the fight the longest, and yes, fate has a role to play even in that.  But don't be stupid about it.

07 August 2012

The Revolutionary Dilemma

In a democratic nation a revolution by force of arms needs a few things to succeed.  One, enough stratification of society to create a populace of malcontents who will support the revolutionaries.  Two, enough fighters, leaders, and propaganda assets to win the war of public opinion with the rest of the population.  Three, enough outside support that they can stay in the fight long enough for the legitimate government to quit the fight and cede the field.  Fourth, a shadow government that can take hold.  These don't exist in sequential order, they must all exist at the same time.

Our American Revolution had all these elements.  The grievances against the Crown (real and imaginary) created a population with enough discontent to actively or passively support the fight for independence.  The fighters themselves were passionate enough to give it the old college try.  And our propaganda efforts in Europe brought support from France and gave legitimacy to the fledgling Colonial government.  Our Continental Congress stood ready to take over.

My previous post about the "Tea Party" taking over Darlington, South Carolina, and the potential of an active military response to the such has struck a bit of a nerve with those who agree with the hypothetical revolutionaries.  Wil even went so far as to quote the "Declaration of Independence" back to me.  Over at the Small Wars Journal one of the responses was even to quote the British saying that they could rapidly put down the little insurrection once the arms were seized at Lexington....  Look folks, I don't disagree with you that the FedGov is a bloated hydra desperately needing to be pruned back, so keep that in mind.

The truth is that the Declaration of Independence is not the founding act of this nation, the surrender of Cornwallis is the founding act of this nation.  Everything leading up to that point meant NOTHING without winning on the field of battle.  And we couldn't have won on the field of battle without all the requisites of a successful revolution.

So, the real reason that the Tea Party won't seize the government of Darlington is that they can't win by doing so.  You can't say "we uphold the Republic and the Constitution" by denying the legitimacy of a democratically elected local government.  That is something that Communists or Fascists do, not Patriots. 

No, if it came to a "revolution" in the US it will be a war of sniping, assassinations, retribution, night raids, and reprisal actions from both sides that will more resemble Northern Ireland than anything else.  The FedGov will avoid using military assets for as long as possible in order to maintain a sense of legitimacy.  The "Revolutionaries" will try to correct the political process by eliminating the threat by less legal means (through legitimate political action and quite likely the assassination/kidnapping very similar to the low level civil war in Iraq that we see).

The fact that long range sniping assassinations, car bombs, and political kidnapping isn't happening tells me that the "Tea Party" won't be seizing any local governments any time soon (although the SPLC will probably claim otherwise to try to con more money out of idiots).  Matt Bracken has put more thought into this than most people, so his vision for the fall of America is probably a tad closer to how the future may play out.

06 August 2012

Operations in the Homeland

This article in the Small Wars Journal details what an active military response may be in response to the "Tea Party" seizing the local government of Darlington.  http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/full-spectrum-operations-in-the-homeland-a-%E2%80%9Cvision%E2%80%9D-of-the-future

Some of the Threepers have their panties in a bunch and say that this is the US Military planning on crushing internal resistance to the over reaching ever encroaching Federal Government.  They may be right, however nothing in that article is in fact illegal by our current structure of Posse Comitatus.

If the "Tea Party" did in fact seize a local government by force and set up a proxy government it would in fact be an act of rebellion in which the President would be within his/her right to declare such a state of rebellion and deploy military forces.  The ink was barely dry on the Constitution when George Washington took troops west to crush the Whiskey Rebellion.  Reconstruction was barely underway when Posse Comitatus was implemented to keep the Southern States from turning into what we made the Philippines and later Japan, a fiefdom run by a General as "military protectorates."

But some folks forget that "Darlington" has happened before.  In Athens, and there the elections gave the "revolution" the mandate of the people.  Political power does come from the barrel of a gun.

04 August 2012

Women in the Infantry, part N

Before I asked "What is the problem" that assigning women to the combat arms would answer, and a much more eloquent Marine Engineer Captain wrote about her experience deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.  http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/article/get-over-it-we-are-not-all-created-equal

When I went through Ranger school, I went down for heat stroke once (and would have been kicked out if the RI had been able to find a thermometer to stick up my ass), had my hands swell so badly that the skin split, developed cellulitis, had flies drink from the open sores on any exposed skin, and got poison ivy so bad that my uniform became crusted and stuck to my raw skin. 

And I was one of the lucky "just over half" of all Rangers who left Ranger school with a tab, and 60 percent of those of us lucky enough to earn it had to take a recycle to do so.  A lot of folks have pointed to the 60 percent "go" rate for women attending Sapper school as proof and justification that women are only being held back by our sexist policies.   I'm happy for them, but still after a decade of Sapper School throwing out Sapper Tab wearing females, the number has finally pushed over the 50 person mark. 

Here on my blog I can say what I think, and I think that the Washington Times got it right.  The following quote from here http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/30/army-may-train-women-for-rigor-of-front-lines/?page=all  Seems to sum it all up pretty succinctly.
In tests of aerobic capacity, the records show, only 74 of 8,385 ROTC women attained the level of the lowest 16 percent of men.
“No training system can close this gap,” he said. “The reason men and women cannot truly be trained together is not a matter of attitude. It is physical.
There are women out there who would be exceptional Infantry leaders if given the opportunity.  There just aren't enough of them to make a difference, and opening the ranks to allow them in would let in a lot people we really don't want in the Infantry. 

And the real kicker is that there will always be a huge need for smart people, male and female, to do the in depth analysis and staff work that make the Infantry successful on the battlefield.  When I was an NCO I truly thought that NCOs were the backbone of the Army, and it is true that when you need to transition from plan to action the role of the NCO is utterly critical.  But if you want a better plan, make your smart people planners.

Now Army Infantry Officer Basic Course (or Infantry Basic Officer Leader's Course depending on which acronym you care to use) is not particularly strenuous for men, and it isn't a hard course to pass.  In fact I dare say that the basic branch training SHOULD be opened to female officers for their professional development if they desire (that way if they HAD to lead troops in combat they could have the same confidence in their training that their male counterparts enjoy).  But at the end of the day, it stands to reason that there just aren't enough women to justify the pain on everyone to open up the combat arms to female Soldiers.